First Foundation/

Our People

Our small Team is passionate about First Foundation's mission. Their commitment and dedication go well beyond the call of duty.

Annette Fale, Chief Executive Officer

Annette joined the First Foundation team as CEO in May 2015.
She has spent over 20 years in the not for profit sector including various roles with The Sir Peter Blake Trust, World Vision of New Zealand and has been a First Foundation mentor since 2008.

Annette spent 14 years as General Manager of the National Young Leaders Days (NYLD), which she founded in New Zealand in 2001.  NYLD was set up to inspire and influence a generation of young people to recognise their leadership potential in their own lives and through influencing others.  NYLD is responsible for the largest leadership event in New Zealand, with more than 120,000 students and adults attending since inception. More than 700 New Zealand schools take part and NYLD continues to receive endorsements from business and community leaders. 

Annette was recognised for her work with the National Young Leaders Day when she was awarded an Emerging Leader Award through The Sir Peter Blake Trust in 2007.  In 2013 Annette was a finalist in Community Service and Social Enterprise category for the Westpac Women of Influence Awards.

"I'm absolutely delighted to head up a team that educate and empower our young people.  I'm passionate about creating opportunities that change lives and am excited to embrace this new challenge".

Annette is married to Epati.  They have two young children and live in Auckland.

View Annette's Linkedin profile

Amanda Gilchrist, Corporate Account Manager

Amanda is a University of Canterbury graduate, gaining a BA double major in Business and Japanese before a Post Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching. Amanda has travelled extensively, with stints working in Canada, Japan, London and Sydney, before returning to settle in Auckland.


Since returning Amanda has worked as Operations and Business Development Manager at ACCESS Technology, (Wellington and Sydney), and Sponsorship Manager for Major Events at Auckland City Council.

Having taken 18 months out of the workforce to be a full-time mum to 2 toddlers, Amanda had a chance to reflect on what she really wanted out of her next role.

"There are so many reasons why I enjoy working at First Foundation. First Foundation and its model are inspirational and visionary. It allows me to utilize my key skills and experience in a challenging and worthwhile role that makes a real difference. It impacts the lives of young people that really need and deserve it".

Cornelia Veikune, Student Programme Manager

Cornelia is a New Zealand born Samoan. Both parents migrated to New Zealand in the early 70's to pursue the migrant dream which has motivated Cornelia to achieve and help others to achieve also. She has dedicated her time working with youth in church ministry and as a youth mentor at secondary schools for the past 10 years.

A combination of Cornelia's volunteer, work and life experiences has led Cornelia to pursue a career in Youth Development. Cornelia graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Human Services majoring in Youth Work. Cornelia is particularly interested in in the provision of a holistic, strength-based approach to support young people in their development, which fits perfectly with the objective of the First Foundation programme. Cornelia was appointed the Student Support role in the end of June. The role is primarily to support First Foundation students transition into tertiary, support students with any academic and work experience issues as well as providing pastoral care for students and mentors, particularly for the year 13 and first year university students.

"I see First Foundation as New Zealanders helping young New Zealanders. I believe that communities and families have such a huge influence on young people and their development. First Foundation creates that sense of family and community. It is a great opportunity for young people, professionals, sponsor partners and First Foundation staff who may come from different worlds and experiences to come together and exchange their stories, understanding and knowledge. This opens up a child's world significantly and broadens their perspective of the world and the amazing opportunities available. I feel very honoured to be a part of First Foundation, supporting young people achieve their academic and personal aspirations"

Cecilia Tuala, Student Support

Cecilia is a New Zealand born Samoan raised in South Auckland.
She is strongly motivated to help youth realise their full potential. She has spent the last seven years working in the not-for-profit sector, primarily working with New Zealand youth. She spent four years coordinating and managing the National Young Leaders Day (NYLD) events. NYLD is responsible for the largest leadership event in New Zealand.

Prior to moving to First Foundation, she was the Programme Development Manager for Elicit, a newly established trust, that is dedicated to empowering young women.

Cecilia's main role at First Foundation is to manage the Foundation Steps Programme.

"I'm really excited to be a part of the First Foundation whanau. I really believe in the kaupapa of the organization. I'm really passionate about providing opportunities and support that will allow young people to flourish"

Isaac Etimani, Student Support

Isaac is New Zealand born. He has had a variety of work and voluntary experiences that include New Zealand's top printing apprentice, studio production, leading various academic and mentoring programmes and voluntary work and events in the community.

He has extensive creative and people skills and always enjoys the opportunity to provide guidance and full wrap around support to young people.

His years of mentoring, student support and "on the ground" experience provides the appropriate knowledge to encourage our next generation of pioneers to reach their fullest potential. 

"I am super privileged to be a part of the successful First Foundation team. I believe in the vision and the heart of the organisation. The scholarships that are offered by our scholarship partners are the most rewarding achievement to the successful applicants".


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